Monday, November 28, 2011

Men In Tights

Every Thanksgiving weekend for the last 3 years, my jBird has taken it upon herself to run in the Seattle Kids' Marathon. Kids sign up in October and keep track of their miles that they run throughout October and November which should total 25, and then Thanksgiving weekend they all run a 1.2 mile loop around Seattle Center to finish up the whole "marathon". About 3000 kids from around the city do this every year and it's a pretty amazing thing to witness. The first year she ran, she wanted the Chief Lou to go with her because she was nervous and she likes him better anyway. So since then, it has become their thing that they do.

I will pause here to admit that while we live a pretty active life, we are not real exercisers, per se. We walk just about everywhere we need to go, we like to hike together in the summer, we ride bikes with the kids and we get out and run around the park every now and then, but the grownups in this family are not real fitness buffs. Especially here in Seattle where fitness is elevated to a whole new plane of existence. In most parts of the country, walking a couple miles every day to run your errands would be considered hard core. Here it's the bare minimum. It is no coincidence that companies like REI are headquartered here. When we first moved here I would see packs of cyclists clad entirely in space age fabrics rocketing through town and I thought they were in training for something. Nope, just some commuters on their way to work.

So anyway, the marathon. 3000 kids and their families line up in the shadow of the Space Needle and some encouraging things are shouted, some cheers are made, countless reminders of the non-competitive nature of the whole affair are bellowed, some kid sings the National Anthem, I bawl, and they're off. The jBird takes it all in the spirit it was intended. She has no interest in winning, she just wants to do it. The larger the crowd she can be a part of, the better. So we bundle her up in sweats and sweaters and gloves and hand knitted woolly things and the Chief Lou dusts off his all purpose athletic shoes, I bawl and take pictures, and they're off. Surrounded by whole families of people in $400 running shoes and tights, special fanny packs, wind resistant aerodynamic hoodies and those funny sporting sunglasses. I heard a mom this year talking to her son, who couldn't have been more than eight, saying: "Well, that wasn't your best run, but you have to remember there were all those slow people around us. How about we go for a run when we get home and see if you can do better?"

Huh? And yet another way I've misunderstood this whole parenting thing. When the promotional material said things like "non-competitive" and "for fun" I took it at its word. Was I supposed to be pushing my jBird to do "better" with each mile, starting at age 5? It wasn't enough for her to run 25 miles under her own steam on the honor system? It wasn't enough for her to get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday and go run a mile with thousands of other people? Was I supposed to be wearing tights and funny glasses?!

I guess the Chief Lou was feeling a little out of place this year, too. As I type this, he has gone out for a run. This is so disruptive to my world view that I had to blog about it. I'm proud as heck, but also a little bit afraid that if this keeps up, there will be outfits involved.

**Small note of apology. If this should be more incoherent or cranky than usual, it's because I'm suffering from massive sleep deprivation and my mouth feels like I've been eating loose change from all the zinc lozenges I've had in the last couple days. It has been Phlegmfest 2011 around here for at least 2 weeks and I  may have just today reached the end of my very long rope. I promised myself I would not blog about being sick.**


  1. We seem to be trading Pet Peeves this week. The over-competitive parents really used to make me crazy. There were soccer games where I practically had to be physically restrained from saying something to the parents screaming inappropriate "encouragement" to their kids.

    In other news: outfits sounds pretty ominous. And I admire your restraint regarding blogging about being sick. ;)

  2. When I found out that my runner-friend had a special store to buy her shoes and that she bought those shoes every couple months, I realized I would never completely understand her.
    (Those zinc things are the worst. I dissolve them in water then drink it.)

  3. NO! Not outfits! *shudder* hee hee

    (I hope you get to feeling better soon.)

  4. @ Just Jane, I couldn't remember who you were to go find you again, but I liked your post on BlogHer about what writers owe their readers. Nice to see you again!

    I am a very literal person. What I mean, I say. I am always caught being the only person to not bring a gift or to actually bring my children to outings, because I assume people are being honest when they say things. Very frustrating.

  5. I love the picture you portrayed of your kid bundled up in warm woolens and sweats while surrounded by all those mini high-techies. Brava for your literal interpretation of 'fun' and 'non competitive'.
    I hope sucking on those coiny tasting zinc lozenges paid off and you're feeling better today. I always forget about the zinc thing - instead, I've been chewing raw garlic (yum) and ginger tea. Fairly effective.

  6. I read a book on marketing a while back that cited a study on runners' injuries. Turns out there is a direct correlation between injuries and cost of running shoes. No, not an inverse correlation, a direct correlation. The more expensive the shoes, the more injuries.

    What a tangential comment.


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